Yixing Teapots — TeaDB James InBetweenIsode Episode #9

Inbetweenisode Episode #9 from James. This is part one of a two part series on Yixing teapots. The first part covers some very basic concepts, including other resources, modern vs. not, and some basic characteristics of clay teapots.

Please check out these resources:
http://www.marshaln.com/tag/yixing/
http://terebess.hu/english/yixing1.html
http://terebess.hu/english/yixing1a.html

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14 Responses to Yixing Teapots — TeaDB James InBetweenIsode Episode #9

  1. Xavier LaRue says:

    Quite interesting ep.

    Really really look forward to the next one. I’ve been a bit mesmeriezed by
    clay but never took the jump except the 170ml clay teapot I bought that is
    obviously too big for anything. That was an inpulse buy when I should have
    bought a Gaiwan but anyway. Now I own 2 gaiwan ( 2.5 and 3oz ) and that
    monstruosity 🙂

    Anyway, curious to hear more about it. Cheers
    and Merry Chrismas!

    • James says:

      Hi Xavier,

      Thanks for the comment. If I were to do it over, I’d probably stick with two gaiwans of ~ those sizes and perhaps a couple strong heat-retaining pots.

      The next episode will be a bit more practical, including a couple nuances with yixing.

      Cheers!
      -James

      • Xavier LaRue says:

        I love my new gaiwan as it’s really thick walled. This has the
        advantages of heat retention AND taste neutrality. 🙂

        Anyway. I don’t have enough money for all the tea I want to
        buy and drink. I won’t start sinking money in teapots 😉

        Cheers,
        Xavier

  2. Peter says:

    Good basic intro to purchasing such an item, James. But I hope that next episode will find you explaining the reasons why one would ever want to use a yixing over a gaiwan. Thanks!

    • James says:

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for the comment. Yep! The next episode will be far more practical on tips and advantages for yixing. That being said, it’s really not a very cost-effective thing to invest in.

      Cheers!
      -James

  3. Miguel says:

    Perhaps, it is worth adding the point of view of a ‘teapot addict’ here. I have been experimenting with Yixing (as well as other clays) for a while now, and often compare the results by using a Gaiwan to brew the same type of tea. From my experience, the teapot allows for better extraction, and in some cases, depending of the clay, it allows allows to tone down some of the bitterness, manufacture defects, et cetera in teas, while enhancing the good things like the body, aftertaste, etc. I think this was also mentioned by James in the video. In a nutshell, using a teapot provides a totally different experience and perception of the same tea. I have drunk teas that tasted terrible when brewed in a Gaiwan with all the necessary care, and became quite decent when brewed rather carelessly in a good teapot (but this is not to be taken as a rule of thumb). Refusing to use teapots because it is expensive, distracting, or what have you, amounts to giving up on exploring this different dimensions of the tea experience. Tea and clay have been used together for a long time, and for good reason (by the way, I am not a teapot vendor of any kind). Looking forward to the second video!

    • Rogo says:

      Miguel I totally agree with you.
      For me it’s also about the experience of using clay pots as well. I tried my favourite tea in a gaiwan (for a quick convenience) the other day…. it didn’t taste great, I realised that the flavour I had grown to love was the qualities of my well seasoned duanni teapot, it adds body, controls bitterness, extracts high notes, rounds the mouth feel, just enhances the hell out of anything put in it. I tried a little experiment and realised how drastic the differences are between gaiwan and yixing, and that a less porous clay(zhuni or red clays) are less drastic as they give back less, but a more porous clay (duanni, zishi) 100% alters the tea and for me personally provides a more enjoyable brew. But I emphasise that the clay needs a solid seasoning and character before it reaches this stage. Totally worth the investment and time, but unless you are after something specific a gaiwan is still excellent. It also depends on tea type as well, I am mainly a Puerh drinker so I lean towards that clay.
      Take care and happy brewing 🙂

      • Miguel says:

        Thanks for your reply, Rogo. Indeed, from my experience, it is not only puerh which benefits from the use of a clay teapot. At one of our teachers’ class here in Taiwan, we made detailed comparisons of several high mountain oolongs brewed in a gaiwan, a small porcelain teapot, and a zhuni teapot. The latter clearly came out as the clear winner. Using a gaiwan allows to better enjoy the tea fragance, but usually not the body and aftertaste (because of the low extraction, I believe). And if one is not careful enough, you can get also rather bitter notes, which does not necessarily mean the tea is bad when evaluating it.

        As to duanni, I am glad to read that you are so fond of it. I too own several pots made of this type of clay and I think it is largely underestimated. People often use it with shu puerh, for which is very good at eliminating the undesirable ‘wo dui’ notes in these teas. In addition, as documented by Stephane at the teamasters blog, duanni is also good for highly roasted teas such like traditional Tie Guan Yin.

        Nevertheless, I bought this relatively high-fired duanni pot from a vendor here, which I initially started using for shu. But when I showed the pot to one of my teachers, she suggested to clean it by boiling thoroughly and try some sheng or gaoshan in it. I tried it with a powerful Nannuo sheng (and later with others) and it has been quite an nice experience. It made the bitterness which I had found by brewing it in other clays instantly go away, and the tea soup came much mellower and balanced, without affecting the fragance of the tea.

    • James says:

      Hi Miguel & Rogo,

      Thanks for the comments and sharing your perspective. While I definitely fall closer to the yixing magic clay skeptic category, I don’t disagree with anything you guys have said. Brewing in yixing or other clay vessels definitely can change the tea. That being said, I don’t think it is a guaranteed improvement of the tea. There are teas that I prefer in a gaiwan over clay. My personal opinion is that this has more to do with the heat retention, pour, etc. than any magical properties that clay posses.

      My main point would be that Yixing can feel like something that a tea drinker should inevitably dive into if they want to make a great cup of tea. I don’t believe this is the case, and think Yixing should be optional at best. There’s a strong collector/hype cost that anyone who wants legit yixing has to pay. Frankly, I think for folks on any sort of budget their money is better spent elsewhere.

      Cheers!
      -James

  4. yssah says:

    well nobody is really wrong or right here..i think it all depends on who you are talking to. if someone sees value in the possibilities that yixing offers and can afford it, then by all means. and if someone with very limited budget wants to get the yixing experience even with the risk of it not really being worth the $$ then they should go ahead with it too. the possibility of the yixing breaking before they even get to the seasoned teapot phase should also be considered tho.

    i appreciate that you showed us the differences between yixings that look more or less the same to the untrained eye. invaluable tips! i also look forward to more tea lovers who have seasoned a lot of yixings and give us more insight…i still have a lot to learn on clays and such..not to mention yixing in general.

    i did get a yixing today at a store that sells odds and ends..came with a cup too. but it had a broken lid that was seamlessly glued back together tho the pot itself has no cracks…but the paint/glaze inside seems to have been scraped off in some parts – or is that normal? lol. it is a pretty clean pot tho and would say it was only very slightly used. i feel like it is pretty safe but would like to hear what you think. in any case, i got it for less than a dollar 😀

    glad to hear that toxins are not found more in clay pots than anywhere else in this polluted earth…that does sound more plausible.

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